Some male – female ratios

Expert court witnesses:Senior lecturers and professors:Professors only:Court judges:Tribunal judges:All judges:
2 to 11 to 13.5 to 1*3.3 to 11.5 to 12.4 to 1**

We soon confirmed that there were far more men interviewed than women – sometimes 6x as many – but journalists said that this was because men held more authoritative roles in society. And it was hard to argue with this. But even so, the ratio of men to women experts seemed too great.  How much acknowledged female expertise was there out there which wasn’t being used by news programmes?

Working out how much authority women hold in society is not easy, but figures from various professional bodies and also from expert witness agencies, suggested in 2013 that expert men only outnumbered expert women in society by about 2.5 – 1

Of course this ignores the question of how much unacknowledged expertise lies with women. In October 2011 on the Today programme, three men and no women were interviewed in an item about breast cancer, which caused an outcry. When the BBC wanted to respond the only available information about women interviewees was held by the Expert Women campaign which was featured on the BBC Radio 4 “Feedback” programme.

The  campaign eventually suggested a target ratio of 3-1 men to women experts and asked broadcasters to pledge to reach it. Sky News and Channel 4 signed up immediately.  This ratio seemed achievable and much fairer, if not perfect. All the monitors were journalism students, and Lis Howell and Lisa Campbell were journalists themselves. They sympathised with journalists, but it was clear the broadcasters were not representing society, they were misrepresenting it.